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State lawmakers weigh in on Critical Race Theory at Columbia Board of Education meeting

State lawmakers weigh in on Critical Race Theory at Columbia Board of Education meeting
Rep. Chuck Basye plans to "call out" Columbia Public Schools over teaching Critical Race Theory


At least three state lawmakers addressed the Columbia Board of Education about Critical Race Theory at its meeting Monday night.

Rep. Chuck Basye said that he felt that Critical Race Theory, often referred to as CRT, was being taught in Columbia Public Schools. The lawmaker said that he has proof it is being taught.

"I believe CRT has been taught in CPS schools. The evidence is in grade schools, middle schools and high schools," Basye said. "We want accurate history good and bad taught in our schools."

Rep. David Tyson Smith also addressed the board, however, he said he does not believe CRT is being taught in the district.

It's okay to teach American history," Smith said. "It's not okay to judge kids by their skin color and say that white kids are oppressors or Black kids are oppressed. That's not happening."

There were tense moments during the meeting when Critical Race Theory was brought up. Police escorted one person out of the meeting.

Before Monday night's meeting, Basye said he was having communication issues with the district and board.

"I would just like to have a discussion in the public discussion where they would let people speak on the topic of what they claim is not happening and that's the teaching of Critical Race Theory and The 1619 Project and other things," Basye said. "They're doing it and they want to deny it, that's fine, but I'm gonna call him out on it and I have concrete facts that they are in fact teaching this hatred in our schools."

In September, Basye called for CPS superintendent Brian Yearwood's resignation after a teacher allegedly showed the music video "This is America" by Childish Gambino in class and gave students the option to write a report on it.

He says the school board has not been very responsive to his requests.

"I have asked on two separate occasions I asked him (Yearwood) to put something on the agenda," Basye said. "That video I think, would be very appropriate since they feel it's appropriate to have in the classroom."

Michelle Baumstark, a spokesperson for CPS, sent ABC 17 News emails sent back and forth between Basye and CPS, showing Basye's efforts to get CRT on the consent agenda.

However, Brian Yearwood denied Basye's initial request.

Then Basye's second request was denied because it failed to meet board policy. The request came within one week of the board meeting and per board policy, the request must come more than a week out.

Baumstark said that Yearwood met with Basye on Oct. 15.

In an email sent on Nov. 4, Yearwood wrote that he "would be glad" to meet with Basye again and asked for a date and time.

Basye said he's willing to take the issue to the Capitol.

"We are going to address this in the legislature if the schools are going to continue this, this business of teaching our kids to hate each other based on the color of their skin," Basye said.

Article Topic Follows: Education

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Zach Boetto

Zach Boetto anchors the weekend morning and weekday 9 a.m. & noon newscasts for ABC 17. You can find up-to-the-minute information on Zach’s social media, @ABC17Zach on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.


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